Ezra's Round Table / Systems Seminar: Corinne Scown (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab)
From food scraps to plastics, much of the modern economy relies on the ability of humans to generate and discard waste with minimal consequences. Less than 10% of plastic products used in the United States are recycled and well over half of landfilled waste is organic material, some of which decays quickly to release fugitive methane (a potent greenhouse gas). This seminar will explore a range of options for moving toward a circular economy, some of which require shifts in the types of products we use and how we dispose of them (novel circular plastics), some require changes only in how our plastic waste is sorted and recycled (solvent-assisted recycling), and some of which focus on improving resource recovery from organic waste streams available today. Quantitative analysis results include life-cycle greenhouse gas tradeoffs between different waste reduction/recycling strategies, as well as human health impacts associated with changes in air pollutant emissions.